ValdezWe’ve heard it before — after all, when you write about real estate, you do spend a fair amount of time talking about how difficult and expensive it is to pay property taxes: It’s not always easy to be a property owner in Texas.

We’ve talked about why property taxes are climbing. But Lupe Valdez, newly crowned Democratic candidate for governor, says that a story in the Houston Chronicle that revealed she is facing about $12,000 in overdue property taxes is a good example of why reform is needed. (more…)

Dallas Central Appraisal District staff saw Stephen White a lot last year. The founder and president of Sentry Real Estate Advisors spent hours in the musty DCAD building researching property appraisals. His goal was to help clients fight their perpetually increasing property tax bills. He expects to be even busier this year.

“With the new tax laws that are out there, it is important that people keep focused,” White said.

Homeowners were previously allowed to deduct property taxes from their federal income taxes. Under the terms of the new tax code, that amount is now capped at $10,000, increasing the financial burden for those with large property tax bills.

“A lot of the ramifications have not been realized because people haven’t felt the pain yet,” he added.

White, a Park Cities-based agent for Allie Beth Allman and Associates, founded Sentry last year on the premise that he could generate business by providing a service that nobody else would offer for free.

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property taxIt’s a drum several Dallas ISD trustees have been beating for a while — a Tax Ratification Election that would allow the district to increase services and programs at dozens of at-risk schools with the money raised by increasing property taxes rates.

But they’ve yet to get it on the ballot. (more…)

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The answer may not be can you deduct those 2018 property taxes you pre-paid, but should you? (Photo courtesy TaxRebate.org.uk)

Over the  Christmas-to-New-Years week, a steady question was being asked all over Texas, thanks to the new tax bill signed by President Donald Trump last month — “Can I pay my 2018 property taxes early to take advantage of one last deduction?”

The answer is well, yes and no. The Internal Revenue Service released an advisory last week to try to tamp down the rumors (we shared it on our Facebook page to give everyone the heads up). (more…)

Here’s the net-net of the proposed Republican plan to “lower” our taxes. Mortgage interest deductions would be capped at mortgages $500,000 or less (half the current $1 million) for primary residences. Mortgage interest deductions for second homes would simply vanish. You may be thinking this doesn’t sound bad and you may be mostly right.  While I suspect the $500,000-plus market is relatively smaller than the sub-$500,000 market, the rub may be with the second home deduction.  After all, how many soon-to-be retirees have a $400,000 primary residence and a $250,000 second home?

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A special Dallas ISD school board meeting scheduled for Saturday to discuss increasing the property tax rate has been postponed, largely because of exorbitant cost estimates for the date picked for a potential vote.

“In consultation with Board President Dan Micciche, the called board meeting for tomorrow, Saturday, August 5, has been postponed,” the district announced today. “The meeting has been postponed due to the estimated cost for a special election in October.”

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Another positive move by the Dallas City Council this efficient first day of the new council, at least for us oldies: the property tax homestead exemption for seniors and the disabled has been raised from $64,000 to $90,000. 

The break was launched and shepherded by Jennifer Staubach Gates. The vote was unanimous, but some worried about it pinching the budget. Personally, I think this is more of a “thank-you” gift to all the seniors who voted in the last election. When you run for office, you learn quickly it’s mainly the old folks who vote, answer the phone and front door, and love to jabber about issues.

Here’s how the exemption works: the year before you turn 65, your homestead (the home you live in, not a second or investment home) freezes the amount you pay on county and school taxes. You can do this for the first person who turns 65 in your home, or it applies to the surviving spouse of a 65 year old if she is 55 or older — ha, another reason not to get a trophy wife! There is a property tax “ceiling” that limits the school and county taxes to what you paid in the year you or your spouse turned 65. It could only change if you add major improvements to the property.

Funny thing at today’s City Council meeting. Mayor Rawlings made a big deal of telling the senior citizens of Dallas that this increased exemption was being done for them, despite all the dire financial needs of the city, and they should remember that! He also said he didn’t want Council whining when the budget got tight come August. The break is costing the city about $15 million. After all, there are more dollars going to bail out the Dallas Police and Fire pension fund, remember? Still, the vote was unanimous.

“I love it when the council comes together and we’re agreeing on something. It sounds like we’re very passionate about this,” Rawlings said. “But this needs to be very clear that this is the biggest decision we’re going to make in this city’s budget this year.”

But it’s going to help Rawlings, too, because he is also in exemption mode! (more…)

Source: Congressional Budget Office

Source: Congressional Budget Office

Yesterday, Trump unveiled a single piece of paper “detailing” his tax proposals.  There are no bills or resolutions or research to back any of it up or flesh it out.  So when and how any of this will ultimately be turned into actionable policy is, like the man himself, anyone’s guess.  Color me shocked.

It starts by highlighting how he wants to simplify the individual tax code and make filing taxes easier (and ends with how he wants to line his own pockets and balloon the deficit).  I don’t know about you, but it’s been my experience that when someone tells me they want to make something easier, I’m usually worse off. This proposal doesn’t disappoint.

As I’m sure you’ve read by now, all deductions would be eliminated except mortgage interest and charitable deductions. “Whew” you think.  Well, not so fast.  Property taxes would no longer be deductible.

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